Seventh night of Hanukkah reflection

  • December 03, 2013

    Dear haverim,

     

    Earlier this afternoon I welcomed the Plano West High School students to Anshai

    Torah for our monthly lunch program.  During the course of my discussion, I

    reminded them of the December Dilemma faced by so many young Jewish

    families--the proximity of Hanukkah to Christmas. 

     

    Although this yearís extraordinarily early arrival of Hanukkah has created some

    unexpected concerns, the basic issues faced by parents at this time of year are

    ever present.  Every store in every mall across this country seems to be

    decorated in red and green.  The words to every Christmas carole are heard

    countless times in stores, cars, school concerts, etc.  Our children are often

    mesmerized by the beautiful lights that define so many homes and businesses

    in our communities.

     

    How are we to respond?  Periodically, I will receive a call from a contrite and

    dejected parent that his/her child doesnít know how to deal with the deluge of

    Christmas.  Sometimes, the child is adamantly upset about being different. 

    Sometimes, the children donít want to be Jewish anymore.  Sometimes, the

    parents feel terribly ill-prepared to address the constant challenge from children

    who see a bright shiny world around them that seems to be off-limits to their

    children.

     

    After spending time with parents, sharing strategies with which to address their

    predicament, I always try to remind them that Hanukkah can serve as a yearly

    wake-up call for us.  If our children are overly attracted by the beauty of Christmas,

    I wonder if we have created an environment in our homes where they can appreciate

    the beauty of Shabbat each week?  If our children never have the joy of being

    silly in shul on Purim and Simchat Torah, have we created a situation whereby we have

    deprived them of the many joys of being Jewish? 

     

    If the attractions associated with Christmas are too appealing to our Jewish children,

    perhaps it is a reminder to us to deepen our childrenís appreciation for their Jewish

    heritage.  If the wonder and beauty of Christmas is too tantalizing to our children and

    to our adults, perhaps it is a reminder to make a greater investment in our Jewish way

    of life. 

     

    When our three girls were cute and cuddly and willing to sit on our laps, Wende and I

    took them to view the beautiful Christmas lights around Dallas at this time of year.  We

    wanted them to appreciate the beauty in our non-Jewish world, but we also diligently

    worked  to give them the joy of living Jewishly, the courage to stand proudly as members

    of the Jewish people, and the comfort to appreciate beautiful things in the world around

    them in such a way that would not threaten their identityÖ.The challenge of raising children

    never ends.

     

    May each of you who is blessed with children always welcome the blessing, and find the

    ability to respond to the challenges with wisdom and a good dose of humor, periodically.

     

    Hag Urim Sameah.

     

    Rabbi Stefan J. Weinberg